Site of Palmyra – University of Copenhagen

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Archaeological site of Palmyra

Historical & archaeological value

Palmyra is located in the Syrian desert, near the oasis of Palmyra, 215 km northeast of Damascus. The earliest human traces consist of flint tools and human bones which were found in the El Kwom oasis. The tools go back to the Paleolithic period and are considered by experts as a reference point for Syrian prehistory. The name of the city was first mentioned in Bronze Age documents going back to the 3rd millennium BC.

Palmyra’s scattered ruins cover an area of ​​over ten square kilometers and date from the first to third centuries AD. The city enjoyed a strategic position on trade routes across Syria and caravans carried not only cargo but various customs and other cultural influences. The city was planned under the Roman system, following the Greek (Hippodamus) tradition of urban planning which incorporates the town, oasis and cemeteries outside the walls. There is a well-preserved Roman theater with decorated columns, and large stage, which could host as many as 5000 people.

The Temple of Baal was built in the early first century AD on the ruins of the former temple of Helista and the site includes three further temples, those of Nebo, Baal Shamin and the funerary temple. Around the year 300 AD, Diocletian’s Palace and a city wall were built, the wall was renovated during the period of Justinian in the sixth century AD. The citadel of Faḫr aldīn Almaʿnī II, dating to the 18th-19th centuries, is also part of the archaeological area.

Due to its outstanding universal value, the site was included on the UNESCO world heritage list in 1980.